ABSTRACT

Von Clausewitz defined war at the beginning of the nineteenth century as ‘the continuation of policy by other means’. This put the emphasis on foreign policy and diplomacy and reflected the view of most leaders that they can control the nature of military conflict. There is, however, another side to war — its impact on the internal situation of the country involved. This is much more unpredictable. In most circumstances the experience of war interacts with political and social pressures; war is therefore a catalyst for change. This acts in one of two ways. The catalyst can either initiate change, perhaps against a previous trend. Or it can accelerate the pace of a previous trend to bring about more quickly a change that might have occurred anyway. During the period 1854-1991 Russia was involved in ten major wars, all of which played an important part in its internal development.